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Karen Yarbrough, who represented Forest Park in the Illinois House as 7th District state representative from 2001 until 2013, ran unopposed for the Cook County Clerk’s position on Nov. 6. 

Yarbrough garnered around 1.2 million votes on her way to becoming the first female, the first African-American and the first suburban resident to hold the clerk’s seat. She’ll replace longtime county Clerk David Orr.

In November 2016, around two-thirds of voters in the county voted in favor of consolidating the recorder’s office with that of the Cook County Clerk. Now, it’s up to Yarbrough to preside over the historic merger.

On Oct. 25, Yarbrough outlined some of her plans and priorities for the clerk’s job for members of the Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club at Meal of the Day Cafe in Maywood.

“This office tells the story of the people of Cook County and Chicago,” Yarbrough said of the clerk’s office. “We hold the records of birth, death and marriage. We’re also the election authority for the entire county. And when the recorder’s office merges with the clerk’s office, then we’ll take on the land records.”

Yarbrough said that in the run-up to her election to the county clerk’s position, she met with Orr, along with a number of clerks of suburban municipalities, such as Maywood Clerk Viola Mims, in order to get a feel for the office and its responsibilities.

Yarbrough said that “cyber-security is probably one of the most important issues we’re facing.”

She said that she’ll preside over the introduction of new optical scan paper voting machines and the implementation of a new cashiering system in the clerk’s office.

“People want paper ballots,” she said. “They want to know that whatever they’re punching, they can take that ballot and it counts. People feel better with paper. They do. Until we do something differently or something else happens, we’re going to have paper ballots.”

‘Blue wave’ crests in Forest Park 

The vaunted blue wave that was supposed to wash over the country during the Nov. 6 midterm election turned out to be rather uneven. In some places, particularly southern states like Texas and Georgia, the wave underwhelmed. 

As of Nov. 11, Democrats had gained a net of 29 seats in Congress, giving the party enough seats to retake the U.S. House even as the U.S. Senate remains in Republican control. Two close governor’s races in Georgia and Florida appear headed for recounts. 

In Illinois, the wave was more like a tsunami. Come next year, Democrats will not only have complete control of the governor’s mansion, the House and the Senate, but they’ll also control all statewide offices, such as attorney general and treasurer. 

In addition, the only two Republican congressmen representing Chicago’s suburbs, Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren, were both defeated. 

At the top of the ticket, Democrat J.B. Pritzker trounced Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner 54 percent to 39 percent, with 99 percent of precincts having reported results as of Nov. 11.

Forest Park’s 10,259 registered voters contributed to that defeat, with 78 percent of them casting ballots for Pritzker, according to preliminary results released by the Cook County Clerk’s office.

Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7th) handily defeated Republican challenger Craig Cameron, garnering around 78 percent of the vote in Forest Park — where voter turnout was around 63 percent. Across suburban Cook County, the turnout was around 55 percent. 

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com